Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Nammour, founder of Nick’s Mixed Drinks. I had originally heard about Nick in terms of his charity work associated with his mixology business. I must admit I was skeptical. Mixology? Charity driven drink naming contests? After a few emails and some Facebook chat, I met up with Nick, along with his boyfriend, in the Tower Starbucks so he could explain how it all comes together.
Nick, a bubbly friendly guy who is more apt to hug you hello then shake your hand, gets downright giddy when talking about his passion: mixology. “For years I have been mixing drinks for my friends,” he says with a smile, “I love making someone a drink and having them go ‘WOW!’, it makes me happy to make other people happy.”
What, I asked, is mixology? How is it different from bartending? They are similar, he assured me…. But mixology takes the whole process to the next level and is all about being tailored to the taste preference of the consumer. Bartending is making drinks, Mixology is creating drinks, and can be done on a very personal level.
And to Nick, making drinks is personal. He thrives on the connection that a drink maker should have with the consumer. “If you are serving drinks,” again with his ever present smile, “you are part therapist part provider. You want people to have a good time, but to be healthy and safe.” For Nick that means listening to what people want, knowing how to interpret that into a drink they will love, and being patient as they try new things. It also means sometimes telling them “no” (like the guy who wanted meat in his drink) and being TIPS certified. TIPs is Training in Intoxicated Persons and covers knowing how to help people who might otherwise have problems and being aware of the health needs of the consumers. For example, an old bartender trick of pouring weaker drinks as the night goes on for those who might not know their limits. “More flavor, less alcohol, plenty of water. I want them to remember the awesome drinks I made.”
Again, it isn’t just about mixing ingredients to Nick, it is about the overall taste experience. He uses organic locally grown fruit as his garnishes, makes drinks on a theme, and has built a business, Nick’s Mixed Drinks, doing so. He told me excitedly about the upcoming wedding he would be facilitating. He will be creating a few brand new drinks just for the occasion and they will all have wedding themed names.
By working weddings, retirement parties, fundraises, and other events in the LA area where he is located, Nick’s Mixed Drinks is catching on and has quickly gotten a reputation for being a sign of good taste and guaranteed good times.
So, how does any of this relate to charity? When a new drink is created, it needs a name. What more fun way to name a drink than to have a drink naming contest? But wait, it gets better. The winner not only gets the bragging rights of naming a delightful new drink, but they get to pick the charity that all proceeds and tips from the sale of that newly named drink will go to.
Most recently, a new drink was named Arabian Nights Nick will donate all future tips from that drink to The Children’s Hospital. Another recent drink, the Lady Lupus, inspired by Lady GaGa, will support the Lupus Foundation. There is even an LGBT drink name in the works (all very hush hush until it gets announced in September with dramatics and flair). All proceeds and tips of that drink will go to support a local LGBT Community Center.
Nick is big on following your passion, finding what makes you happy and finding a way to make it work. The fact that he can support some of his favorite charities while making people drinks that they love, well, he will be the first to tell you that he is doing exactly what he wants with his life.
Of course, any business could use expansion… and Nick is quick to point out that he doesn’t mind coming to Fresno for events. His business cards are proudly on display at our community center and he is available for events, fund raisers, or private parties
“Cocktails came from Prohibition.” He tells me, “People were making gin in the bathtub and it tasted awful, so you added fruit and other stuff.” We’ve come a long way from those sorts of experiments, now the mixing and flavor combinations are done with precision and almost scientific intensity. “It’s a serious thing, to create a new drink,” he says, “But it is a fun process and the rewards are totally worth it… for that ‘Wow!’ moment.”